Bay City restaurants set to keep outdoor dining options in place through winter

Published: Oct. 16, 2020 at 9:06 PM EDT
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BAY CITY, Mich. (WJRT) (10/16/2020)-Outdoor dining has improved the odds for the state’s struggling restaurants, but with the first snowfall already in the books for parts of Michigan, what comes next?

Kim Coonan has some delicious plans in store for his East side eatery…

“This gentleman was showing me what he thought we should do and it was a great idea,” he related. “I told him what we were going to do and he said, that’s even better.”

Outdoor dining has become a life line for restaurants statewide based on capacity restrictions and social distancing mandates in place since owners were first allowed to reopen. The owner of Coonan’s Irish Hub believes it’s a win for both his balance book and safety-minded regulars.

“Those people that are—their health may be impacted by this, they’re not coming,” Coonan said. “But, if you can give them an environment where they can feel safe and not be inside… I think that will help us.”

In the coming weeks, Coonan wants to cover the patio out back from end to end with an awning stretching from the back of the building to the fence with canvas walls to keep out the cold.

Across town, Old City Hall sits in the center of a district retrofitted in early June to maximize outdoor seating, when Bay City announced it would close the surrounding roads to traffic. They didn’t have time to talk on camera but allowed ABC 12 a look at what they’ve been working on, which includes a large tented space on Saginaw Street with space heaters to keep patrons comfortable.

“Good traction, more revenue for us, so just keep us afloat,” Travis Britton explained.

Britton is the general manager of Uptown staple Real Seafood Company, where the outdoor space is front and center year-round.

“That’s going to be pretty much my saving grace going into the offseason for us,” he said.

Calling for installing a heavy plastic covering over the patio to continue utilizing that riverfront real estate through the winter. That will happen as soon as Monday.

Coonan says he’s just waiting on the materials to arrive to get started. He remains cautiously optimistic the cold weather won’t put a damper on the rest of their season and that a few simple changes may open the door to new opportunities.

“If we can help all businesses out by making our customers feel like they’re safe or safer, then that’ll benefit everybody,” Coonan explained.

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